USA Legal Services
Legal Assistance in the United States
California Licensed Attorney
Spain Advisors’ founder, Mark Carr, is an attorney licensed to practice in California. He can assist Spanish, European and USA citizens with legal matters related to the USA.
Based on our experience, we understand USA law and procedure. Thus, we can give you sound advice on how to proceed in the USA. This will save you time, aggravation and perhaps money.
A Spaniard’s Typical USA Legal Case
Joaquin was a Spanish citizen living in the USA. He died leaving $30,000 in a pension account for his brother, Juan, a Spanish citizen living in Spain. To obtain the money, Juan had to get a US taxpayer ID number and file an application. He also needed Joaquin’s USA death certificate, with an apostille, for use in Spain. The basic procedures for this is described below.
Pension. To receive the pension money, Juan had to:
1) Apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is required as the IRS normally taxes money leaving the USA. It takes about 3 months.
2) File an application for the pension with Arizona. Juan had to prove he was Joaquin’s brother by submitting his and his mother’s Spanish birth certificates with an English translation.
3) Juan’s application had to be signed before a US notary. These are hard to find in Spain (a Spanish notary can’t do it).
4) After a few phone calls to Arizona, the application and documents were sent to Arizona.
5) After several weeks, Arizona issued a check to Juan for the pension.
Death Certificate. Juan needed Joaquin’s death certificate for Spain’s probate court. This required: Filing an application in the Arizona county where Joaquin died and submitting birth certificates to prove the family relation.
Apostille. The certificate needed an apostille attached. This required an application and fee to Arizona. After two weeks, Juan received the death certificate with the apostille.
USA Legal Representation
We can advise and represent you in the USA for the legal matters listed below. Call us for free advice. For a quote we’ll need details about your case.
- Getting a US tax ID number, death certificates and other documents
- Civil matters related to doing business in the USA
- Criminal defense and related matters involving the USA and other countries
- Immigration and Visas. We offer general advice and work with a immigration law firm based in the USA
USA Tax law changes frequently. Tax advice, and form preparation, requires an IRS-certified tax specialist. We partner with one who can file your USA tax forms and answer your questions. Below are some basic requirements.
There is one tax form all USA citizens must file and two more they might have to file.
A. Form 1040. All USA citizens, regardless of where they live, must file a Form 1040 income tax return every year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on or before April 15. You can get an extension to October 15. The 1040 is mandatory in all cases even if:
1) You have not lived in the United States for a long time,
2) You have no address in the United States or
3) You earn no money in the United States.
Normally you must also file in your resident country. For Spanish residents contact us for assistance.
1) Foreign Tax Credit. If you pay taxes in your resident country, you can use this to reduce your USA taxes. So if you pay more in Spain, the UK, etc., than you owe in the USA, you pay no taxes in the USA. This is quite common.
2) Child Tax Credit: The IRS grants a $1,000 tax credit for each USA citizen child under the age of 17. So if you have children you might get a refund.
B. FBAR and FACTA. You have to file these forms IF you meet their respective thresholds:
1) FBAR, Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (Form 114). On this form you tell the IRS the amount of money you have located outside of the USA in bank accounts, pensions, investments, etc.
Threshold: You must file if the total in your account(s) is $10,000 or more at any time during the year (not at the end of the year).
2) FACTA, Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (Form 8938). Enacted in 2014, it’s designed to prevent tax evasion. On the form you tell the IRS the total value of all the financial sssets you own outside of the USA. A financial asset is:
a) Money in a bank account, investment account or mutual fund;
b) Stocks, bonds or other securities issued by a non-USA entity and not held in an investment account;
c) Any interest in a foreign corporation, foreign partnership, foreign trust or similar entity and
d) Any financial instrument or contract that has an issuer or counterparty that is not a USA citizen.
NOTE: Real estate is NOT a Financial Asset.
Threshold. You must file if:
1) You file your 1040 as an individual and the total value of all your overseas assets is $300,000 or more at any time during the year or $200,000 or more on the last day of the year.
2) You file a 1040 jointly and the total value of all your overseas assets is $600,000 or more at any time during the year or $400,000 or more on the last day of the year.
Note: Your foreign bank or financial institution has to file the same form so the IRS can detect a failure to file and the penalty is very strict.
Audit. The IRS may audit any tax form. The level of scrutiny depends on several factors, the most important is the amount of taxes you owe. A ‘low-risk’ return is normally one with $1,500 or less due in taxes.
Best Advice. Get it done. If you have any doubts at all about whether you have to file, just file. Call us and we can connect you to an expert.
This must be attached to some USA documents for their use in Spain and other countries. Online services charge a lot to get one. Contact us to save money.
It must be attached to a notarized document, or a ‘state-issued’ document, for use in a foreign country.
Notary. When you sign a document before a notary, they check your ID, watch you sign and look at your signature. If it’s all legitimate, they stamp their seal and sign their name. Your signature and the document are ‘notarized’. That’s all a USA notary public does. (A notary public in Spain and elsewhere have legal training and do this and other things).
Notary Fraud. How do we know that the person who signed as the ‘notary’ is really that person? It could be an imposter using their stamp and forging their signature.
Apostille. That’s why we have the Apostille. A notary public has their name, signature and seal on file with the local government. In the USA, it’s with the state where the notary works. These people examine the document to confirm that the notary’s signature is valid and not forged. If valid, they issue an Apostille. The Notary confirms You and the Apostille confirms the Notary. That’s it.
Apostille Documents. Normally two types of documents need an Apostille:
1) Notarized Document. It’s just a document signed before a notary public. For use in Europe, it needs an Apostille. These documents include a power of attorney, an affidavit, a property deed, an application for a patent, pension or government benefit, some contracts, leases, other legal documents, etc.
2) Government-Issued Document. These are documents issued by a government agency. They are signed by an authorized employee. Like a notary, the authorized employee has their name and signature on file with the local government so they can be checked out just like a notary is.
These documents include certificates like birth, death, marriage, adoption and divorce, a university degree and transcript, articles of incorporation, passports and any other document issued by a government agency.
So that’s it. Notaries make sure document signers are legitimate and Apostilles make sure notaries, and state-document signers, are legitimate. Once the apostille is attached, the document can be used in Europe and N. America.
Need help getting an Apostille? Before you hire online, contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Need Help with a USA Legal Matter?
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